The much beloved Reading Rainbow, the Emmy award winning children’s television series that aired on PBS from 1983 to 2009 and encouraged kids to read is making a comeback – in the form of a tech start-up.
This past week, on June 19th, the Reading Rainbow was relaunched as an iPad App by a tech start-up called RRKidz. As with the original television series, the goal is the same, to motivate a new generation of children to read.
The Reading Rainbow App is a reading adventure app, available on the iTunes store. It provides many of the hallmarks of the original show such as storytelling by celebrity actors, including Levar Burton. It also includes in-app video field trips that connect the stories being read to the real world.
The app, designed for 3-9 year olds, launched with 150 books and 16 video field trips with more content to follow. It is free to download but the content is provided on a subscription basis, starting at an introductory price of 9.99 a month. A companion web site is also available for parents to track how much time their kids are reading and what they’re reading. It also provides books suggestions and tips to help kids to read more.
LeVar Burton, the host of the series during its run, co-founded RRKidz in conjunction with his business partner Mark Wolfe and CEO Asra Rasheed and acquired the Rainbow license in 2011.
RRKidz, headquartered in Los Angeles with offices in San Francisco, is a digital media company focused on developing educational and entertainment content for kids. It holds the rights for several other children’s brands and has plans on releasing additional products throughout 2012.
In a time when kids’ TV watching habits are changing and their attention is also divided between the internet, video games and content on media devices such as tablets and smartphones, reincarnating Reading Rainbow as an app was a good move.